International Women’s Day: meet the charity Sheroes part 2!

8 minute read

Happy International Women’s day to all of the inspirational, hard-working, and just plain fabulous women in the charity sector!

We want to use today to celebrate YOU. The charity sector is a rare thing in that it is a predominantly female workforce. Perhaps that’s why so many of you have been able to thrive and achieve the impossible on a regular basis.

Without you, the sector really would fall apart.

In part one of our international women’s day articles, we revealed that the latest estimates are that it will take 217 years to close the gender pay gap at current rates of progress. This number has risen from 170 years as progress has actually slowed down.

So this year to support the #PushForProgress we are revealing our Charity Sheroes to show just what women are capable of!

These are the women who inspire us whether they know it or not. Their boldness, innovation and strength shown in their own careers empowers the rest of us to dream big and resiliently chase our goals.

On behalf of the charity sector we want to say thank you! Not only for the work you do for others, but the examples you have set and the paths you have carved out for us to follow.

Introducing…. Our final three charity Sheroes!

International Women’s Day: meet the charity Sheroes part 2!

Joanne Dunsford, European and UK Director of Animals Asia

1.What has made you proud in your career?

One of the most wonderful things about working in this sector is the sense of pride you get every day when you witness the progress of your charity.  The feeling of reward and achievement when you are part of a team which has converted hard work and passion into positive change, whether that be of people’s lives, services or saving animals, is amazing.  It’s a priceless feeling and the beating heart of our sector.  But what probably makes me most proud is simply being part of this incredible fundraising community.  At heart, fundraisers are change makers – we have the courage to believe in the impossible and the dedication to make it happen.   Fundraisers are some of the hardest working, inspirational, talented people I know – they give their hearts and souls to their work, in an often selfless way, and make the world a better place as a result.  That makes me proud.

2. What advice would you give to other women starting out in the charity sector?

Take responsibility for your own learning – training budgets are often tight, but you can learn just as much from books, webinars, apps.  And don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Charity people are driven by a collective sense of social responsibility.  Helping one another can only be better for the aggregate good.  I have reached out to many people over the years and nobody has ever refused me a cup of coffee and advice.

I’d also say always follow your heart and trust your intuition.  When applying for jobs, choose your managers and leaders carefully – they are culture shapers and it’s important to work in an environment that aligns to your values.  The only regret I have about my own career is not leaving a job sooner when my values were compromised.

I have signposted many members of my teams to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In – if you haven’t read it, do it now.

And finally, be yourself.  Fundraising is all about relationships and you can’t establish great connections with colleagues or donors if you are not authentic.

3. Are there any major challenges you have faced in your career?

Burn out.  So many of us are guilty of it in charities because we care too much.  Somebody told me years ago the best thing I could do for myself was care a little bit less and it seemed so counter intuitive to me at the time.  But really what they meant is be kinder to myself.  It’s still a work in progress.

4. Are there any women who have really helped or inspired you? 

Yes!  Way too many to list here.  My wise best friend who gave up a career in the city to follow her dreams  – she taught me the power of listening to your heart. From when I joined the sector 1998 up to the current day I have been surrounded by, managed and led by some awesome ladies, many of whom I am still in touch with as friends and mentors.  A stand out is Jessica Bondy who gave me my first break in fundraising.  She was, and is, an immense talent with a fearsome intelligence, wit and work ethic.  I recall being petrified of her during my first weeks in post but her belief in me gave me a confidence that I’ve carried with me through my career.  She saw my potential long before I recognised it, and supported me for years after she stopped managing me.  We still enjoy an occasional glass of vino now.  Since then, there have been countless women whom I’ve been lucky enough to work for and with, who have all been generous with their time and knowledge and to whom I am eternally grateful.  Another epic lady is Debra Searle who rowed across the Atlantic on her own.  I listened to her speak back in 2014 and afterwards, handed in my notice and spent a year backpacking solo around the world.  That was a good day at the office!

International Women’s Day: meet the charity Sheroes part 2!

Lizzi Hollis-Butcher, Corporate Partnerships Manager at St. Mungo’s, and Women’s Action Network Coordinator

1.What has made you proud in your career?

Having the cultural awareness to change the sector and the motivation to do it. The fact that the things I am saying and the ideas I’m producing resonate with people at all levels and are part of a driving force for change make me incredibly proud of myself and the direction that my career is taking. I’ve always been passionate about social justice and women’s rights and so to be able to incorporate that into my day job is incredibly rewarding and of course, beneficial to myself and all women who aspire to become leaders.

 2. What advice would you give to other women starting out in the charity sector?

Don’t be afraid to be bold! Spend time figuring out what you want to achieve, both in the short and long term and then actively seek mentors and opportunities that can help you reach your goals. Having a strong and wide network is hugely beneficial and you should use it as much as you can. I want to see women own their success and their abilities and not feel guilty or be viewed negatively for advocating for themselves.

3. Are there any major challenges you have faced in your career?

I suffer really badly from Imposter Syndrome and often my first response to success is that it is undeserved. I frequently have a little voice in my head (I called her Esmeralda!) telling me I have no idea what I’m doing and that soon enough I’m going to get found out. It has stopped me on a number of occasions making decisions I could have made alone, or not taking chances that would have benefitted my career. It has also made me compare myself on a number of occasions to other women in the sector and what they have achieved, which is a really unhealthy thing to do. After discussing this with my current mentor, she told me her way of dealing with Imposter Syndrome is to ask “What’s the truth?”, playing through the negative thought and looking for evidence to support it – often you’ll find more evidence to the contrary!

 4. Are there any women who have really helped or inspired you?

So many! I was raised by women, my family is overwhelmingly female so I’ve always been drawn to female role-models. One of my biggest is Paramore lead singer Hayley Williams, she has become intergalactic in a genre of music that was always dominated by male leads and paved the way for so many other women to be successful in the emo/pop-punk scene. She has made female vocalists in rock bands an expectation rather than a novelty.

Closer to home I am lucky to be able to name 3 female managers who have been intelligent, knowledgeable, supportive, strategic and intuitive. One encouraged me to speak at conferences and recommended me for awards; one helped me understand what it is to be a leader within my own organisation and how to think like the leader I want to be; another shielded me from internal politics and became a friend as well as someone who I can always call on for advice.

International Women’s Day: meet the charity Sheroes part 2!

Bruna De Palo, Life Coach helping people to find fulfilment in the their careers by transitioning to the charity sector.

1.What has made you proud in your career?

I’m proud of having been able to turn my poison into medicine. I struggled for 17 years in the wrong career, and when I finally realised what my calling was, I made use of all I’ve learnt through that journey. Today I’m a Life Coach and I help people getting out of their own golden cage and build a meaningful career.

2. What advice would you give to other women starting out in the charity sector?

To bring who they are into what they do. And that goes beyond their skills. Charities need their passion, their natural talent, their vision of the world, their values and all that makes them thrive. So my advice is to not hold back any ability and see how it can be used: ability to speak in public, working with extra attention to details, love for challenges, and everything learnt through your own personal experiences. Honouring who they are, they will reach fulfilment and make the real difference into their organisation, also becoming a great role model for other women.

3. Are there any major challenges you have faced in your career?

Uh, so many. The top one was waking up every morning to just go to work, earn my salary, go back home and repeat it 5 days per week. I felt like a puppet. I hated it, but I didn’t really have any idea how to get out of it. That’s what I call a golden cage. Things changed when I got to know my real-self better, recognising what makes me thrive, and believe that in one way or another, it would have been possible to turn that into a career. I was full of fear and doubts, but I have never given up and life rewarded me with the best gift: fulfilment.

4. Are there any women who have really helped or inspired you? (this could be absolutely anyone, famous people, a mentor, a manager, a friend, your mum!)

Oriana Fallaci: one of the greatest journalists and authors ever. I devoured her books, articles, letters, reports, trying to absorb as much as possible from her, her absolute integrity, her well-known strength, her resilience, her endless fight for freedom and democracy, her determination, her pride, her elegance. She’s influenced me on a daily basis. When I’m in a difficult situation I ask myself: “what would Oriana do” and that ensures I keep my integrity safe.

What next?

Sadly there are still so many women and girls in desperate need of support in the UK as well as internationally.

Please take a moment to check out the following charities who are fighting to hard to further the advancement and empowerment of women across the globe:

The Fawcett Society – Leading charity for women’s rights and gender equality

Women in Sport – Increases the visibility of women’s sport and encourages more girls to get into sport.

Women’s Aid – Work to prevent women and children suffering from domestic abuse

Body Gossip – Arts and Education charity encouraging girls to feel proud of their bodies and raise self-esteem.

Rights of Women – Aims to end violence against women and provides legal knowledge and advice.

Smart Works – Assisting low-income women to get jobs and gain financial independence.

Keep an eye out on twitter and facebook this week to see all our inspirational women!

Georgina D'Souza

Digital Marketing Executive at CharityJob. Lover of cat-related memes.

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